How to Develop Confidence in Your Players

One of the most common hurdles facing coaches of youth players is “Performance Anxiety”

Why is it that some players appear to rise to an occasion yet others appear to fall apart?

Excessive nerves can be the result of a lack of confidence but this is often overlooked when the player in question seems to be completely confident in training.

Mental Skills coaching techniques can help coaches to spot the symptoms and develop effective coping strategies to make under-achieving in matches a thing of the past.

What is confidence?

Ÿ  One dictionary definition is the belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.

Ÿ  The Soccer Mindset definition is: confidence is a state of mind, it’s all about how you are thinking and in turn your “internal state”.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes”

Said By a Few Smart Guys

If a player has confidence in their abilities, self-belief, they’ll perform confidently – even when the pressure is on. So how do you build that confidence?

A lack of confidence generally stems from a fear of some sort.

In competitive sport, a lack of self-belief can simply be a fear of the getting beat or the uncertainty of the result.

As a player, you may find yourself standing at kick off of an important game when the ‘what ifs’ strike: “What if I can’t do this; what if I‘m not ready?” or “What if everyone is better than me and I look like an idiot?”

This sort of self-doubt will have a negative impact on performance so as a coach, it becomes an important part of your role to limit the potential for ‘what ifs’ to enter a player’s mind and if they do they have a plan to deal with it.

Don MacNaughton can introduce coaches to mental training tools that equip them with the skills to help athletes banish the ‘what ifs’ by developing greater self-confidence.

 Don MacNaughton’s “Confidence Triad”

Ÿ        Skill Set

Based on the pillars of performance, developing equal strength in the four key skill areas – technical, tactical, physical, psychological – will give athletes a solid structure on which to build self-confidence.

Negative ‘what ifs’ become positive ‘what I have’ giving athletes belief in their abilities.

Ÿ       Values or Philosophy

A coach with strong values and a clear coaching philosophy will inspire confidence in his athletes. Knowing what you believe and knowing what it is you’re all about makes it much harder for the ‘what ifs’ to interrupt your thoughts.

Ÿ       Capabilities

Identifying where strengths and weaknesses lie allows you to build on strengths and develop weaknesses so they don’t hurt your performance. Experiencing progress through training and practice builds confidence in the knowledge that change is always possible. With a growth mindset, there can be no limit to your capabilities.

With the help of Mental Skills techniques, coaches can learn to identify the source of each athlete’s ‘fear’ and turn unknowns into familiars.

Positive experiences in training will boost confidence in competition.

After all, an athlete is unlikely to under-achieve through fear of the familiar!

Don MacNaughton consults across the world on the Psycho-Social aspects of Player Development.

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